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Wells Fargo Caught Forging Mortage Documents — Will We Finally See Jail Time for the Bankers?

Not a single major bank employee saw imprisonment for mortgage fraud.
 
 
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A new internal report says the Justice Department massively overstated its successes in targeting mortgage fraud while in fact ranking it as a low priority for investigation. The Justice Department’s inspector general says despite playing a central role in the nation’s financial crisis, mortgage fraud was deemed either a low priority or not a priority at all. This comes as a recently revealed internal Wells Fargo document appears to guide lawyers step by step on how to fabricate missing documents to foreclose on homeowners. Wells Fargo is the country’s largest mortgage servicer and services some nine million home loans.

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Juan González: A new internal report says the Justice Department massively overstated its successes in targeting mortgage fraud while in fact ranking it as a low priority for investigation. The Justice Department’s inspector general says despite playing a central role in the nation’s financial crisis, mortgage fraud was deemed either a low priority or not a priority at all. In one instance, Attorney General Eric Holder claimed to have filed lawsuits on behalf of homeowner victims for losses totaling more than $1 billion, but the actual amount was 91 percent less, around $95 million.

This comes as a recently revealed internal Wells Fargo document appears to guide lawyers step by step on how to fabricate missing documents to foreclose on homeowners. Wells Fargo is the country’s largest mortgage servicer and services some nine million home loans.

Amy Goodman: State and federal regulators are now focusing on the allegations in the lawsuit brought by Linda Tirelli, who joins us now. She’s an attorney representing clients being foreclosed on by Wells Fargo. Earlier this month, she discovered the Wells Fargo manual on how to produce missing documents to foreclose on homeowners. She’s a partner at the Garvey, Tirelli & Cushner law firm in White Plains, New York.

In Minneapolis, we’re joined by Kevin Whelan, campaign director for the Home Defenders League, a national movement of underwater homeowners and allies who organize to keep people in their homes and demand accountability.

Wells Fargo declined Democracy Now!'s interview request, saying they're in a, quote, "quiet period" pending the announcement of their quarterly earnings.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Linda Tirelli, let’s begin with you.

Linda Tirelli: Good morning.

AG: Can you describe this manual, how you got it and what it reveals?

LT: Absolutely. The manual that I have, it’s actually entitled the "Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Foreclosure Attorney [Procedure] Manual, Version 1." And it says on it that it’s last published 2/24/2012. Mind you, the national mortgage settlement agreement was announced a week prior, on 2/19/2012.

The way I obtained it, it was actually sitting right there on the Internet, of all things. A colleague of mine, through a Max Gardner’s Bankruptcy Boot Camp, which I am a member, an active member, gave it to me and said, "Hey, I found this online, and I know you’re doing a lot of Wells Fargo cases. Maybe you can use this."

Reading it, my jaw just dropped. As I see it, it’s clearly outlining procedures, not just for the $12-an-hour robo-signers that we’ve heard about all these years, but for the lawyers, who need to be held accountable to a much higher degree. It’s the manual for the lawyers to actually fabricate documents, as I see it, and request that documents that are lacking be fabricated by Wells Fargo. It’s absolutely appalling.